Books

Dewey’s Readathon: A few thoughts

I first learned about Dewey’s two years ago. It was by pure chance (and luck) that I participated in my first readathon. I loved it. I found my people! My book people. I remember being amazed at the organization, and I was happily shocked at the different mini challenges and prizes. It made me feel grateful that a large group of people could convene online for 24 hours and give freely of their time and resources. The readathon isn’t free. Some of us spend real money on it. And that’s great! Last year I hosted a mini challenge and gave away two books. I loved it!

Since my first readathon I have sought to become more involved. Giving back to the community is something I find joy in and the readathon organizers (especially Andi) welcomed me with open arms. This year life threw me for a loop as I found myself on a surprise beach getaway during the readathon. I adjusted my sails and found ways to participate anyway. I wasn’t able to host a mini challenge because I missed the deadline to sign up and my attempt at a rogue challenge didn’t pan out, haha. But I did contribute a warm-up post and I did some #teamrogue cheering on Twitter. I even read a page or two. So for me the readathon was a success. I didn’t participate as much as I have in the past and I am sure I missed a ton of great posts but the hashtags are still there and I look forward to taking some time during the week to go through them.

Last night I was shocked to learn that there are people who come out of the readathon and complain about it. Not enough prizes, not enough cheering. Andi wrote a great post about this entitlement within our community. It’s not unique to the readathon but I want to discuss it as it pertains to this event. It is unfortunate that some people feel anything other than happiness post readathon. As I said on Twitter, you get what you put in. Engaging the community is fun and interactive. It’s a two way conversation. I get a lot out of the readathon because I engage, I respond to tweets, I comment on Instagram pics, and I read blog posts.

I love reading blog posts during the readathon but those are probably the most difficult to cheer for because often people forget to enable comments, or they forget to disable captcha code verification. It’s a lot easier to cheer on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. My suggestion is to share your link on social media and use the readathon hashtag. I totally read some blogs and responded to them through a tweet.

Cheerleading during the readathon might go the way of the dodo. A huge part of me hopes that it doesn’t as I LOVE doing it but regardless of how it is organized in the future I will be here cheering it on! I’ll also #teamrogue no matter what but that’s just me 😉 There were some great ideas being thrown around on Twitter last night but I think the most important suggestion is that we all take it upon ourselves to interact with the community. We cannot sit back and expect people to come to us. If you want to hear from fellow readers go out there and talk to them! 🙂

As the readathon continues to grow in size I think it’s important that participants keep in mind that there are real people behind the scenes. People who love the readathon, people who love Dewey and this is their way of honoring her memory and keeping it alive. Realistic expectations means that anything beyond reading during the readathon is the cherry on a sundae. If you participate for the prizes, or blog hits you will find that leveraging the community for selfish reasons is not the best use of your time.

Until next time Readathon, I will see you in October!

signature.blog

 

 

Book Fridays: Change is coming

This isn’t a post about books but books are in my heart as I write it. That counts, right?

I accepted a job! After 4 years of staying home I am going back into an office. I am excited and nervous. How will I cope with so much change? I feel fortunate to have been able to spend as much time as I have with Diego but I feel that the time is right to move things along to the next step. We enrolled him in a wonderful preschool part-time at the beginning of the year. I was extremely anxious about it but a few months later I am now ready to hand him over full time. It is always a beneficial reminder that I am able to adapt and carry on. Routines change, as they must, and we find ways of making things work.

Child care is expensive. When we initially set out to find a preschool for Diego we were shocked at the cost. As I was searching for a job another horrifying question kept cropping up: how do people afford it? There are a lot of jobs down here that want to pay $10 or less. That is not enough to live off. After child care expenses it doesn’t leave much at all. And if you have more than one child you could see that entire paycheck go. My husband and I have no family nearby who could care for our son so we absolutely have to place him somewhere. When I started job hunting I was dismayed at the listings and how little they offered even as they required more than just a high school diploma. Don’t they know that we have student loans? It’s tough out there.

I was lucky to interview at several places and receive several offers. Some were not matches for me but yesterday I interviewed at a lovely company which I am very excited to work for. After a few weeks of endless scrolling, cover letter writing, and applying I am finally on the other side. I have a lot to do this weekend, plans to make, menus to plan, outfits to pick out. I have never worked and been a mom at the same time. I know this will challenge me and cause me to grow. Organization will be key in keeping me grounded and balanced but planning for all of that stresses me out. I’ve spent more time stating off into space pondering my list than actually getting things done. Tomorrow I hope to get my butt in gear.

As I wrote previously, my job search threw a wrench in my reading this month and I am not sure when I will get back into the groove again. I am going to return my two unread library books (as much as it pains me) and pick them up again at a later date when my mind is settled and I can enjoy them. I’m not sure when I will blog regularly again but I hope to not be away for too long (or at all!).

I wanted to take a moment to thank my neighbor who very kindly watched my son on two separate occasions so that I could go on interviews. I am indebted to her and so very grateful for her kindness and graciousness. Often it is when we feel most alone and overwhelmed that we discover people right next to us who make a difference and offer a helping hand. All we need to do is ask.

My friend Angela and fellow job hunter read over my resume and encouraged me to list all the things I do for my parents’ business on my resume. I had not thought to do this for some reason. Maybe because I do it from home and only for a couple of hours a week. Whatever the reason I was selling myself short. I believe that adding that to my resume is what got me the job. So thank you for being my cheerleader and partner in crime. Many a night we stayed up late sharing our job search woes and lifting each other up when one of us was down in the dumps.

My C-Queens and personal fan club, thank you for always being willing to listen and cheer me on. Thank you for celebrating every little thing with me. I love you guys so much.

And to my husband for being such a wonderful provider all these years.

signature.blog

Book Fridays: Falling behind

After taking part in BBAW I found myself inspired. I had a lot of good ideas for my blog  and I was excited to dive into writing. As it often happens life got hectic and in an unprecedented turn of events I am now looking at the very real possibility of going back to work full time. I have spent the past two weeks looking at job listings, applying for jobs and even going to a couple of interviews. I am distracted, excited and anxious about these changes I am about to make to my life. My reading has suffered and even though I have plenty of books to talk about I find myself unable to find the words.

Blogging is something that I love and so I try to keep it stress free. Sometimes it’s just not happening and this is one such time. My mind is running constantly, obsessing over jobs I’ve applied to and hope to hear back from. I cannot quiet it down enough so that reading is a possibility. In turn, this lack of reading stresses me out as well. I miss my books. I am in the middle of Six of Crows which I am loving so far. I hope to pick it up again this weekend and get the ball rolling.

The prospect of going back to work got me thinking about how I will balance work, home, and books once I find myself employed. Of course I know that having a job doesn’t mean you can’t read but it’s been so long since I didn’t have all the time in the world that it scares me a little to think that going back to work means I will no longer be spending Wednesday afternoons at the library. The established routines around my reading habits will change.

My prediction is that it will take me a couple of months to find my groove. Perhaps it will take longer. I did not know when I would go back to work. I knew that I wanted to, eventually, but the timeline was fluid. The time feels right and so I am going with that. There is a lot to figure out and extra expenses to consider (enrolling Diego full-time at his preschool and getting an additional car for me) but things are happening. I’ve actually been taking steps which means that this isn’t theoretical. This is happening. Change is coming!

 

signature.blog

BBAW Day 5: Keeping it fresh

One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

Blogging about books and reading is how I saved my blog. When I started blogging I did so as a way to share my experiences as a new mom. It was almost a diary that I shared with friends and family. Eventually I got bored and I started sharing recipes and food photos. Once I started doing that I still felt like I hadn’t found my blogging niche. I wanted to write and share on my blog and so I kept switching things up until I started Book Fridays. That really changed my blogging inspiration. I already loved to read and did a lot of it. Sharing seemed like the next logical step.

Sometimes life gets hectic and I take a break. Or sometimes I just don’t feel like fulfilling this self imposed commitment. When the muse strikes again I schedule as many posts as I can and go from there. For me blogging is about fun. I do it mostly for myself and honestly the biggest motivator has to be internal in order to blog long term. If your sole reason for blogging is to make money or receive external validation you will quickly learn that those are not enough to keep you going. Cultivating an audience takes time. For most bloggers it doesn’t happen overnight and once you do have an audience consistency is key.

I’ve mentioned several times how I often feel that I am blogging into the void. That has a tendency to come across as a sad thing but it really is not. Sure, some days I wish my posts encouraged lively discussion in the comments but like I said above I blog for me. I blog because I love to write and to challenge myself to keep up with something I started for myself. Many times I have been tempted to throw in the towel but then I take stock of all the things I’ve done and learned through blogging and I stay.

Keeping things fresh includes writing about more than just the books I’ve read. I like to throw in some posts about books I’ve picked up for my son as well as posts about bookish topics. When it comes to my blog I have only one rule: there are no rules. I will write about whatever strikes my fancy. Whatever inspires me, enrages me or simply causes me to feel inclined to write. I think it’s important that your blog be a space for YOU. I consider my blog a sort of living room where friends can sit awhile and get to know me.

signature.blog

BBAW Day 4: Community

 How do you stay connected to the community? 

Blogging can be a very lonely endeavor which is why Twitter is such a great place to keep up to date with what’s going on. I find it easier to interact on Twitter although I do enjoy commenting on blog posts (my goal this year is to do a lot more of it). When I first started writing about books I did not put myself out there beyond sharing the link on Facebook. I did not think to seek out fellow bloggers. That all changed when I heard about Dewey’s Readathon. Firstly, I had never heard of a readathon and I was blown away by the number of readers who took part. I was also taken in by the mini challenges, cheerleaders, and basically the entire production of it all. All these people came together and organized this amazing event that was free and did not require pants! It was instant love.

During my second readathon I cheered and that really exposed me to a lot of blogs. It was so much fun seeing what everybody was reading and how they were getting on that day. For my third readathon I also cheered but I also hosted a mini challenge. Taking part in the readathon really made me feel a part of a wonderful community. The book community has been nothing but welcoming and I will always be grateful for that. Books are not only my closest friends but they have introduced me to some pretty great humans along the way.

Participating in my first readathon has caused me to be more active on Twitter and it propelled me to continue my blog. It also changed the way I Instagram. Socializing and readathoning go hand in hand. I am only sorry I did not hear about it sooner!

signature.blog

BBAW DAY 3: Because of a Blogger

What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger?

This question has made me realize I need to keep track of who recommended what because even though I know I am constantly adding “want to read” books to my Goodreads I quickly forget which blogger/booktuber I got the rec from. I need to develop a system. Having said that, my brain has proven to not be completely useless for this endeavor as there is one book I can confidently talk about in answer to this question.

Trading Rosemary by Octavia Cade– I know exactly who to blame for this wonderful read: Books and Pieces. I primarily watch her videos on YouTube. Her greeting of, “Hello lovely humans.” is inviting and just perfect. As soon as I heard her talk about this book I bought it on my Kindle and dove right in. I absolutely loved the story.

The next thing I have loved because of a fellow blogger is the #readmyowndamnbooks challenge by Andi at Estella’s Revenge. This make up your own rules challenge has proven fruitful. I have cleared valuable shelf space by parting with some duds I no longer want to keep and I’ve read about 9 books that I owned but had just been keeping as decorations. I now have 5 books left to read! This means I am free to borrow as many books as I want from the library and even purchase a book here and there when the mood strikes.

I don’t have a list of books I’ve read because of these channels/blogs but here is a list of who I watch/read:

Brock at Let’s Read

Ron Lit – her reviews are very scholarly and as I looked at her channel I recalled that I read Carmilla because of her and was not disappointed.

Danika Leigh Ellis

Climb the Stacks

Rincey Reads – I read Station Eleven because of her rec. Another winner.

librarianfanmail – upon writing this I discovered that she’s taking a break from youtube and her content is no longer available but I can’t not mention her. She turned me on to so many great reads!

Brown Girl Reading – I think most of my TBR is her fault! I love her reviews/discussions and she’s been a huge contributor to my quest to read more diversely.

signature.blog

 

BBAW Day 2: Interviews

BBAW is something I started on a whim and therefore I know very little about it. I had no idea there were interview signups, haha. I was not sure what to post for this day until I read WeBeReading’s post. I really liked the questions they answered and so I am answering them below.

How has book blogging been like a job?

Blogging is both like a job and not like a job to me. Last year I sought to write about every book I read but I couldn’t keep up. There came a point where I preferred to dive right into my next book rather than take the time to write a post. If blogging were a job I would not take shortcuts and I’d be a lot more consistent. Surprisingly, another way in which blogging is like a job is that I’ve experienced burnout. Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say and it stresses me out to take a break from my blog. But only at first. I keep this blog largely for myself and I have never had any review commitments. I do this for fun and sometimes I need to remind myself of that.

 

What technologies have you used in blogging?

I use WordPress for this blog and Tumblr for my currently abandoned quote blog. I also use Twitter. I think that blogging develops skills. Planning, posting, scheduling etc. It involves a lot more than just typing. My goal this year is to go deeper. I write about books very superficially even when I have a lot more to say and when I do get on topics that I am passionate about I get stuck. I need to stop blogging by the seat of my pants. Even though it’s fun!

 

What is the best thing about book blogging?

When I first started this blog I focused mainly on parenting my son and food recipes I had tried. It evolved to include a lot of posts about books. I enjoy looking back at how a book made me feel and how my thoughts may change upon a re-read. It had never occurred to me to share my thoughts about books, reading, and bookish things in general. I often feel that I blog into the void but I love it. Every now and then somebody will tell me they read my blog and I feel so honored. Those moments are one of the best things about blogging. Reaching that one person who in turn picks up that book I very vaguely and poorly exalted.

I’m a proficient blogger. I know my way around WordPress and I can even take a half decent picture. Those are skills I have developed through blogging and browsing other blogs/instagram accounts etc.

Meeting other book lovers has definitely been the best part about book blogging. Dewey’s 24 hour readathon has led me to some great people and the excitement and fun of those are something I look forward to all year long. I am so glad I decided to participate in my first readathon two years ago. It’s made all the difference.

signature.blog

BBAW Day 1: The five books of me

It’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week over on The Estella Society and even though I don’t consider myself a book blogger their intro post caught my eye and I wanted to take a stab at it. How hard can choosing 5 books be? The (obvious) answer: VERY! I am almost incapable of choosing between books and when I do I feel almost unable to explain why I loved them so much. It’s one of the reasons I don’t consider myself a book blogger. Sure, I write about the books I’ve read but usually in general terms. I have thus far been too lazy to write the sort of blog posts I admire other bloggers for. And this is where I am trying to talk myself out of writing this post for fear of coming off as an ignorant wannabe.

Having said that here are 5 books I think are very me right now.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – This was the first Murakami book I read and I instantly fell in love with the prose. Granted, I read it in English and not the original Japanese but the translation really gave me the sense that it was true to the author’s voice. I plan on giving this one a reread soon.

Trading Rosemary by Octavia Cade – I read this book after watching a video by Books and Pieces on YouTube. The premise interested me and the fantasy/ sic-fi aspect of it especially. I was not disappointed. It is a very short read (you can read it in one sitting). The story takes place in a world where memories are currency. They are transferred into coins and traded. While the buyer can relive the experience through the memory the original is destroyed. Which memories are worth selling and losing forever?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – When I was younger I loved to read whatever was on a bestseller list and admittedly my reading horizons were very narrow. The Kite Runner was one of the first books that got me thinking about reading diversely.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older – By now it’s no secret that Older is one of my favorite authors and not just because of his books and his writing (both of which are amazing) but also because of his activism. I have learned a lot from his tweets about the publishing industry and writing in general. He’s an asset to the writing community. He calls out the issues of lack of representation and other nonsense such as the children’s book that depicted happy, smiling slaves. Half-Resurrection blues was the first book I read by him and I plan on reading anything else he writes.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas – A place where you can travel into people’s minds, read their thoughts and even influence them. A special potion that allows you to enter this space. Quantum physics and Derrida. I stayed up late into the night to finish this book and it marked the end of a reading slump.

signature.blog

Book Fridays: January Wrap-up

I managed to read 10 books in January which is a personal best. It’s a meaningless stat and I don’t place much value on it but I’m still excited to have accomplished that goal. Here is what I read in January along with some thoughts on each book.

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – I am working on reading the entire series and since my husband got me the set for Christmas I am well on my way to doing just that. With every book I read I realize just how good the film adaptations were. They stayed true to the books and even though changes were made it all still works. I especially love reading the book and getting all the information and nuances left out of the films. I can’t wait to continue my Potter journey soon! My rating: 4 stars
  2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I heard about this book via booktube and picked it up from my library. I really loved the premise and found it to be an enjoyable read. It made me feel like I was in a world of fairy tales. The story centers around Agnieszka, a young girl chosen by an immortal wizard to apprentice with him. My rating: 4 stars
  3. Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older – Ever since I read Resurrection Blues last year I was eager to get back into the world that Older crafted. I was not disappointed with this latest installment in the Bone Street Rumba Series. I will be writing a separate post on this book. Suffice to say it’s filled with badass characters and diverse cast that kicks ass. My rating: 5 stars
  4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – After a friend recommended this book another friend seconded the rec and even sent me a copy as a gift! This book was a difficult read but a good one. It’s difficult because unlike fiction memoir gives us a glimpse into a person’s life. Real life. These awful things happened to real people. Real people made these shitty choices. Overall, it was a powerful read that will stay with me forever. My rating: 4 stars
  5. Low by Mary Elizabeth – My friend wrote and self-published this book and she very kindly shared an ARC with me. I cannot be unbiased about this so I will forgo a star rating on this one, haha. This book is possibly the best she’s written so far. So much growth in the writing style. The story is about Low, a bad boy criminal and Poesy his loving sidekick. They’re a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. If you’re looking for romance and thrills this might be the book for you.
  6. Negro: Este color que me queda bonito by Benito Masso – I picked up this book from El Candil in Ponce during my visit to Puerto Rico last year. One of my goals this year is to read more books in Spanish. I picked up this book because I was excited to hear from a black Puerto Rican about his experiences with racism. Puerto Rico is diverse but the fact remains that black puerto ricans are disadvantaged and oppressed by white puerto ricans. There is no Kumbaya on the island. Racism is rampant and insidious, however, I seldom see it addressed. I more often see people pretend it doesn’t exist. This memoir was poignant in that the author not only recounted his encounters with racism both on the island on on the U.S. mainland but he also detailed his journey of healing and talks openly about internalized racism. My rating: 5 stars
  7. The Martian by Andy Weir – I had been meaning to read this book last year but the wait list at my library was a mile long so I finally caved and bought a copy in December. Naturally, as soon as I bought it I was notified that a copy was on hold for me at the library. Go figure. Anyway, I was excited to read the book especially after watching the movie. I was not disappointed. The book was nothing short of thrilling. The end especially had me on edge even as I knew how it ended! Some changes were made and a lot of detail was left out of the movie. Both incarnations of this story are worth checking out. If you love space travel then I suspect reading about an astronaut stranded on Mars is right up your alley. My rating: 5 stars
  8. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce – When I visited my parents last year I rummaged through the bookcase in my childhood bedroom and found a few books to take with me. This was one of them. I remember reading it and loving it. The idea of a magic garden that appears out of nowhere and that only Tom is privy to was very appealing to me. It still is. Reading children’s books as an adult is such a joy. I will continue to seek out kid lit. My rating: 4 stars
  9. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn – I read this book for the first time during my freshman year of college. It was a required reading for my World Civ class. I remember being blown away by this book after my first reading but my second reading left me underwhelmed. I still think it’s an interesting book but something about it just didn’t resonate with me as much as it did the first time around. I was slightly disappointed but glad I read it all the same. The book is about a man who answers a classified ad that states: Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person. From here he embarks on a journey and so too does the reader. My rating: 3.5 stars
  10. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – A mysterious bookstore filled with strange books and a new clerk who is determined to figure out what’s going on. This book was a fun read. The ending was kind of underwhelming to me but overall I really enjoyed it. My rating: 4 stars

Conclusion:

I had a great reading month and I stuck to my #readmyowndamnbooks challenge! I did not purchase any books. Out of the 10 books I read 2 of them were library books, 1 was an ARC, 1 was a gift and the rest were books I already owned. My pile of books to be read is greatly reduced and after purging my shelves my house is a lot more organized.

signature.blog

Book Fridays: Thoughts on reading

I have been doing a lot of reading this month and it feels good. I have momentum going and I don’t want to lose it. I’ve never been one to care about how many books I read and it wasn’t until two years ago that I started tracking my reading and participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Having said that, I just read 10 books this month and it’s a meaningless statistic that I am excited about. It’s the most I have ever read in a month.

This year I am participating in the #readmyowndamnbooks challenge and so far I am happy with my efforts. I did just purchase a book  but it’s not a novel! And so I am allowing it. If you’re curious, I picked up The Whole30 the 30-day guide to total health and food freedom by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig. My husband and I are starting Whole30 on February 1st and while this will be my second Whole30 I found that the book is a worthwhile investment especially for the recipes and food plans.

Reading is something that I enjoy. I love to read and I can get lost in a book to the point where I will want to shirk my responsibilities. It’s difficult to pry myself away and do mundane things like tidy up, make dinner and put my son to bed BUT I do these things and jump back into reading. I can’t read when I am feeling anxious or stress which is why I often take week long breaks from reading. When my anxiety peaks I find myself consumed by it and the last thing I want is to tarnish my most beloved pastime. Currently, my anxiety is under control and my life has taken a turn for the better which is why I am taking full advantage of my good mental health.

Diego started preschool this month and this has given me two days a week where I have a period of about 7 hours to myself. I try to do as much as I can around the house. Everything is easier and gets done faster when Diego isn’t here to interrupt me! I do miss him but we are both getting some much needed time away from each other. At first I thought I would read during his absence but I have found it much more appealing to be productive. At the moment, I am decluttering and reorganizing closets and drawers. It’s messy work but the end result will hopefully keep us organized. That might not seem like it has anything to do with reading but to me it has everything to do with reading. I like to be relaxed when I am reading. Clutter and outstanding chores get in the way of this so being organized allows me to spend more time reading and less time cleaning up.

Those are all the random thoughts for the day. Next week I will wrap up my reading month and share some thoughts on the books I read in January.

signature.blog